5 tips for first-time visitors to London


As one of the largest and most populated cities in Europe, London understandably has a reputation for being scary, daunting and downright rude at times.

However, that’s not a hard and fast rule. Nine times out of ten, London is an accommodating and forgiving city and it only becomes intimidating when people get lost or confused, which is usually down to a failure to grasp the transport system or the unique quirks of the city.

Londoners tend to keep themselves to themselves, only speaking out when something annoys them, and that’s often because someone isn’t sticking to the rules that keep the capital flowing efficiently.

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Luckily, you aren’t going to end up in any awkward situations or be on the receiving end of any spiky glares because we’re about to educate you on the pillars of everyday life in London and the major lifestyle tips that will ensure you have the best time in the city.

‘Stand on the right’

This is usually the first bit of advice any newcomers to London should know and it largely concerns the city’s brilliant and indispensable Underground system, or ‘the Tube’ as it is also often called.

The phrase ‘stand on the right’ is all but inscribed into London law and it means that when travelling up an escalator, simply keep to the right hand side of the staircase. This allows experienced users and those in a rush to get past, while those unsure of exactly where they’re going can take things at a more comfortable pace.

Go contactless

You’re bound to be familiar with how shopping has been made more convenient with the introduction of contactless cards. Well, it’s the same for getting about in London.

Here, they have what’s called an Oyster card – a pre-paid smart card, loaded with credit. You can order one well in advance of your trip to London and that allows you to use it as soon as you arrive. Simply tap the card on the reader and the fare will be deducted from however much credit you have on the card.

The fact that London buses don’t accept cash anymore means picking up an Oyster card is almost essential. Alternatively, you can register your contactless bank card with Transport for London.

Lost? Ask!

If there’s anything Londoners love, it’s giving directions. No matter how busy your average Londoner is, more often than not they’ll be more than willing to stop whatever they’re doing to help point you in the right direction.

Walking is underrated

Yes, the Tube is brilliant for getting about but in many cases, it might be quicker and cheaper to walk. Some Underground stations are so close that in some cases, it’s not worth the hassle of getting to the platform, waiting for the train, squeezing on, then trying to get out back onto the street. By travelling on foot, you’ll save money, time, stress and even benefit from a little exercise and maybe take in a famous landmark.

It’s a cultural melting pot

Pretty much every country is represented in London, with districts all over the city dedicated to whichever culture you care to mention.

There are too many to get into here but you’ll find Chinatown in the City of Westminster, occupying the area in and around Gerrard Street, while notable mosques are located in Southfields, Brick Lane, Brixton, Finsbury Park and Regent’s Park.